Bait and Switch, Part 3


By Britta

Stunned into immobility by the tableau before him, Tom watched, disbelieving, as B'Elanna's fury erupted. She pushed herself away from his body, snorting like a bull facing a toreador, then she backhanded him across the face. Chakotay was sent to his knees.
*
"You said nothing happened, Tom. And I believed you!" she shouted.
*
A lot closer to the floor than he was before, Chakotay swayed, trying to wipe away the blood pouring out of his mouth. His towel fell off, but he didn't seem to notice, or to care.
*
Upset by both what he'd seen and heard, Tom leaped into the fray. He tried to grab B'Elanna before she could do any more harm, but she twisted out of his grip and spat her wrath at him, "I am disgusted with you, Chakotay! How dare you do this to me! Couldn't you have at least waited until Tom and I were through before showing up here in your 'Fuck Me' suit?"
*
Torres then hauled off and slapped him for good measure, bringing on a nosebleed in no time at all. Flipping the two of them the Klingon thumb, she stalked out the door.
*
Tom wound up lying half on and half off his small sofa. A slap from B'Elanna was nothing to be taken lightly. Recovering first from B'Elanna's dual assault, Tom realized that Chakotay's body, with all its limitations of diet and drink, was sturdier than his own. His body was now lying face-down on the floor.
*
Not stopping to figure out where to lay blame, Tom went over to check Chakotay out. He appeared to have a badly split lip. As he continued to assess the damage done to his own face, he felt wetness below his nose--Chakotay's nose--and realized he was bleeding. Had he gotten blood on the 'Fuck Me' suit?
*
Chakotay mumbled, "I'm sorry, Tom."
*
Frowning, Tom merely said, "Don't move." He made for the pile of clothes in the corner and dug into it, unerringly homing in on his tricorder and dermal regenerator.
*
Scanning his body, he wasn't surprised to see that a mild concussion was possibly indicated. He'd been through that before, when B'Elanna had hit him over stupid stuff. But now he had to wonder. Did it always look this bad when she whaled on him? Peering down at his own body, he thought maybe he'd put up with more violence than he deserved. This was ridiculous. He aimed the regenerator at his mouth then used the fallen towel to clean up the blood.
*
"Chakotay?"
*
"Yeah?"
*
"Come on. Get up."
*
Chakotay tried to sit up but failed. Tom leaned down and pulled the man into an upright position and held him there. Shit. Would nothing go right tonight? He was going to have to call the Doc.

<><><><>

"Mr. Paris, you look like an escapee from a twentieth-century film. Why didn't you call for transport to Sickbay?"
*
"I didn't want to put on a show for anyone who might wander in, Doc. I thought it would be better if you came here."
*
"You may have a point. However, I will have to inform the captain about this. I do hope you have a good story ready."
*
Chakotay couldn't make much sense out of the conversation until the sting of a hypospray helped to clear his mind momentarily. Then he opened his eyes and said, "What happened?" Focusing on the Doctor first, he received a shrug in reply.
*
Looking over to his left, he saw himself wearing a suit he hadn't worn in years. What made this dream even weirder was that the suit had trails of blood going down the thin lapels. What could it mean? Had he hurt someone again? He closed his eyes and tried to remember.
*
The first question was: Who was the bald guy sitting next to him? The next questions were: Where was he, and why were his hands white? Had someone played a practical joke on him and bleached them while he was asleep?
*
As his thoughts slowed down again and ponderously crawled from synapse to synapse, Chakotay grew even more confused and finally fell back into the darkness that was so comforting.
*
The next time he woke up, he heard a woman's voice shouting, "I don't believe you, Chakotay."
*
Another woman answered, "Then believe me."
*
"Oh, Kahless! This is too stupid for words. Captain, why the hell did you allow this? I mean, all Tom did was try to haggle over the price of a trinket!"
*
Janeway's voice of reason droned on about the customs of the planet below them and Chakotay tuned it out. He recalled everything now and he was not happy. All he wanted was for things to go back to the way they were before. He didn't like being Tom Paris. It hurt. The man's life had more complications than he was willing to handle. What was worse was that he knew he hadn't even scratched the surface of Paris' existence.
*
Shuffling noises accompanied his rolling over, and he felt the bed dip as if someone sat down beside him. He peeked out a barely open eyelid and saw himself sitting there, staring. Gods, this was too strange. He gave up trying to make sense of things, and instead stuck out his hand in a gesture of peace.
*
His offer was accepted and now he knew what it felt like to hold hands with himself. Concentrating on their grip, he heard Paris sigh and he opened his eyes just long enough to trade a glance. He moved over and Tom got comfortable beside him. They relaxed somewhat, listening to the women argue.

<><><><>

Tom lay next to his own body, holding its hand until it went limp and his other self began to snore. He was tired. He wanted to go home; be back in a familiar physical housing. For now though, it was enough to be in his own bed. He shoved Chakotay over onto his side to make the snoring stop. Then he swiped his own pillow, and reveling in the comfort of it, he ignored the female voices that rose and fell in the outer room, and went to sleep.

<><><><>

Chakotay woke up with a stiff neck. His head hurt, too. Wondering what time it was, he called for lights up and discovered he was alone. There was a robe lying on the bed though. He got up, put it on, and went into the bathroom. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he noted that, at the very least, all the visual traces of the injuries he'd sustained had been healed.
*
He found a hypospray on the counter that was set to 'pain-killer', so he took advantage of it. A few moments later, he felt better and decided it was time to get something to eat. He headed into the living area and found Tom snoozing on the sofa. Why hadn't he stayed asleep next to him, or left altogether? Should he wake him? Calling for the time took care of his indecision as the computer's voice, monotonously stating, "The time is 2139," caused Tom to sit up abruptly.
*
Chakotay watched as his body moved. He felt curiously detached from the show that Tom put on: swinging his legs onto the floor, leaning forward, yawning, and rubbing his face. He ventured, "How are you feeling?"
*
Tom turned toward him and said, "I'm starving. Can I get something to eat?"
*
He motioned to the small table and replied, "I'm hungry, too. What do you want?"
*
Tom patted his stomach and stated, "I've learned my lesson. No more gut-bombs. What would you suggest?"
*
"A bean burrito with the works."
*
"What does that mean?"
*
Chakotay smiled, "It means you'll like it. You can even have a beer to wash it down."
*
Tom smiled back, although warily, and moved to sit at the table. "Okay, bring it on."
*
While he replicated identical meals for the two of them, Chakotay asked, "So what did I miss while I was down for the count? The last thing I recall was you being in bed with me."
*
"All I did was take a nap while the captain read the riot act to B'Elanna."
*
"Uh huh. Then what happened?" Chakotay brought two frosty mugs of beer over to the table.
*
"B'Elanna woke me up and dragged me out here, then broke up with me." Tom took a hefty swallow of brew, and held the glass against his forehead.
*
Placing plates in front of Tom and himself, Chakotay sat down and inquired worriedly, "Why? Was it something I did?"
*
"No." Tom took a big bite of burrito and chewed. Then he downed some more beer and said, "This is pretty good, thanks."
*
Chakotay dug into his own meal and found it hotter than hell. Shit, too many jalapenos for Tom's taste buds to handle. He set it aside and drank some beer instead.
*
In silence, Tom practically inhaled his burrito. When he finished, he still looked hungry. Chakotay pushed his plate toward Tom and at his curious glance, said, "Go ahead. Your tongue can't handle the peppers."
*
Tom grinned and wolfed down the second burrito quickly. Once finished, he took a long drink of his beer and asked, "So what are we going to do about this situation?"
*
Taking a sip of his own beer, Chakotay thought that Tom was dismissing the breakup with B'Elanna a little too easily. It wasn't any of his business, but he wanted to know why it occurred, and decided to go see her when he had the chance. For now, he questioned, "B'Elanna knows the truth about our situation, right?"
*
"Yeah. The captain explained it to her, when she made her come back here to the 'scene of the crime', or so she told me."
*
"What do you mean by that?"
*
Tom snorted and finished his beer. "She assaulted not one, but two senior officers, Chakotay. The Doctor called both Janeway and Tuvok once I told him what happened."
*
"I see. I hope you explained that we wouldn't be pressing charges."
*
"Of course I did, what do you take me for?"
*
Chakotay shrugged. "Just wanted to be clear on that."
*
"Okay, so you're clear. What do we do next?"
*
Yawning, Chakotay answered, "I think we get some sleep and go about our business as usual in the morning. Now that B'Elanna knows the truth and I've managed to get comfortable enough in your body to fly the ship, I think we can handle whatever comes our way, don't you?"
*
Tom frowned and pointed to Chakotay's half-empty mug. "Are you going to drink that?"
*
"No."
*
"Good. I will." With that, Tom picked up the mug and drained it in one long swallow. "As to what comes our way? I only hope you're right that we can handle it. Oh yeah, I'm sorry about your suit."
*
With a dismissive gesture, Chakotay replied, "You might as well toss it into the recycler. To tell the truth, I'd forgotten I had it."
*
Tom stood up and smirked, "How could you ever forget your 'Fuck Me' suit? Don't worry, Commander, I'll take real good care of it. I even promise to get the blood stains out."
*
Chakotay remained silent, but glared at Tom, and the younger man took that as a sign to leave. As Tom hustled out the door, Chakotay let out a long sigh, then rose and cleared the table.

<><><><>

Tom walked down the corridor and into Chakotay's quarters. Fuck. What a mess. Thank god Chakotay hadn't remembered what B'Elanna had said to him. She'd explained everything that had and hadn't happened between herself and the commander, and then just as smoothly had given him his walking papers.
*
He stripped off the stained suit and stuffed it into the 'fresher, punching a few buttons for extra cleaning capability, then went into the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. B'Elanna's words came back to haunt him.
*
"You've always wanted to get your hands on Chakotay," she'd stated. "I knew that when we first got together. I'm tired of competing with him even if he doesn't know it, and now you've got his body all to yourself. When you're done playing with it, come see me. Maybe I'll give you another chance."
*
Black hair, dark brown eyes, and light brown skin. This is what he, Tom Paris the fair-haired boy, looked like now. He raised a hand to his face and felt along the jawline. Not much in the way of a beard here. His eyes and his hand dropped to the broad chest. Smooth skin. No hair here either. He felt weird doing this, but he was compelled to watch as he touched Chakotay's body.
*
His mind played back old fantasies as he wet a fingertip and circled a nipple. It hardened more quickly than he expected and he realized that Chakotay was more sensitive here than he was. He trailed fingernails all across his chest and dipped down to his navel. Not ticklish there. Hmm, another difference between them.
*
Suddenly, B'Elanna's words stampeded back into his mind, and ruined the pleasure of what he was doing. He shook his head and sighed. What an idiot he was. Chakotay wouldn't want him. The man was as straight as an arrow, and that fact alone was enough to put a damper on any wishes he might have had.
*
Frustrated by everything that had happened over the last two days, Tom called the lights off and went to bed. He could only hope that nobody would have a crisis in the middle of the night. All he wanted right now was to be left alone. A good night's sleep, and maybe a good dream or two might fix him up.
*
He wondered drowsily if Chakotay had trouble sleeping in his bed. Nah, probably not. As his thoughts drifted over his day, he recalled what a mess his cabin was. Maybe he'd get lucky and Chakotay would clean it for him....

<><><><>

After Tom left, Chakotay sent up a silent prayer that he wouldn't be disturbed for the remainder of the night. He wanted to meditate. Putting the dishes into the recycler and shedding the robe Tom had found for him earlier, he called the lights down low and settled into position on the living room floor.
*
He didn't need a full-fledged spirit walk this time, and it was just as well, because he didn't have his medicine bundle with him. Time passed slowly and his breathing slowed. He followed it in and out and let go of his conscious control. Soon he began to get that floaty feeling, the one he recognized as the alpha state.
*
It was a good place to be. Tension evaporated, his focus changed, and he felt there were other things to attend to that had little to do with what his waking self thought was important.
*
Time elongated and collapsed; his sense of it passing disappeared. He sat and breathed out, breathed in, and existed as his breath did. It flowed through him and around him and out into the other places on the ship. He shared his breath, his life, with everyone else through the ventilation conduits that reached everywhere. Someone else exhaled and he inhaled, and vice versa.
*
Friend or foe, if they shared air, they were intimately involved on a certain level, especially in a closed environment like Voyager. Comfort increased as his tenseness decreased. Thoughts wafted through his mind and dissipated, scattering like clouds of dust being blown apart by rays of a sun until there was nothing left but peaceful clarity.
*
Sometime later, he felt his mind coalesce, and gently he returned to himself. Feeling the physical lungs breathe, the hardness of the knees beneath his hands, he was back. Slowly, he opened his eyes and blinked a time or two, getting used to his surroundings once again. A few minutes later, he tried to stand up only to discover that Tom's legs had fallen asleep.
*
His abortive attempt at rising gracefully landed him flat on his face. Damn! At least he hadn't broken anything this time, he thought. Oh well, he'd just have to remember that Tom's body wasn't used to staying still for so long.
*
Sighing heavily, letting out all those other people's breaths, Chakotay crawled to Tom's bed and levered himself into it, where he fell deeply asleep and dreamed of bloody, blond Klingons wearing off-white suits.

END OF PART 3

Comments? Suggestions?
E-mail me at Britta

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Bait and Switch, Part 4